How Safety and Security Issues are Impacting the Attractions Industry

By Keith Miller
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Several education sessions Monday focused on the essential topics of safety and security and what attraction facilities should do to get the most out of their efforts in these two important areas.

How to Make Safety a Part of Your Company’s DNA

In a session named “Creating a Culture of Safety,” Drew Tewksbury, senior vice president of McGowan Amusement Group, continually stressed the crucial need for every employee of a company, regardless of stature, to make safety an integral part of everything they do every day. He said from the moment a new employee comes on board, this safety culture must be repeatedly stressed to him/her.

He explained how incidents involve direct costs, like insurance premium increases, medical and litigation costs, investigation expenses, repair costs, and downtime. Indirect costs include damages to an operation’s reputation, customer service, employee morale, and customer and employee retention.

Tewksbury underscored the crucial need to pay attention to “near misses,” not just “incidents,” because by the time a safety incident occurs, it’s too late. He spoke of a mini-golf course with a torn piece of turf on one hole that would have cost just $300 to replace. When someone tripped and became injured, the resulting claim wound up costing the course half a million dollars.
He noted top-performing organizations are constantly benchmarking their safety measures and make safety the very first priority of training programs. “Safety must be viewed as a company value, not just a priority,” he said. “Safety isn’t expensive—it’s priceless.”

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Drones Present Growing Challenge for Attractions
The soaring use of drones in recent years has created both opportunities and challenges for theme parks and attractions. A Monday session titled “Working Drones in Attractions: Efficiency, Challenges, and Safety” addressed many of the current and upcoming issues. Lisa Ellman, a partner and leading policy lawyer with Hogan Lovells and a member of the Commercial Drone Alliance, spoke on what attractions should know about both their own use of drones and mitigating intrusive drones.
She noted in the United States alone, 11 million drones are expected to be in use by 2020, and the legislative concerns for policymakers fall in three categories: safety, security, and privacy. Although many attractions are interested in using drones on their own property for ride and equipment inspections, crowd monitoring, and entertainment, session attendees seemed to be interested most on mitigating drones intruding on their properties.

Ellman made it clear that in the United States and many other countries, laws prohibit attempts to damage or destroy intrusive drones. As long as they aren’t being used for criminal purposes, drones are regarded as aircraft and are protected as such. In many jurisdictions, drones flying over private property cannot be regarded as trespassing. Employing methods to take control of intrusive drones is currently a contentious issue that legislation has yet to definitively address. Ellman concluded by urging attractions to develop internal procedures for employees to follow when an intrusive drone appears: “Develop a toolkit for employees to utilize so they can gather information about the specifics of a drone intrusion incident.”

Lisa Ellman